By Datuk Seri Yuen Yuet Leng (from The Sun)
Datuk Brig-Jen(R) Richard Robless in his letter in the press last week could not have expressed it better for all old soldiers and policemen who lived, fought, survived while many of their comrades of all races died in the various “emergencies” over 40 plus years from 1948-1960 and then 1961-1989 and that finally culminated in the signing of the Peace Accord. All of us hold very sad and yet proud memories of our dead comrades who sacrificed their lives for their race, while at heart, they were sons of our multiracial nation.
When the Emergency commenced in 1948 I had just entered the Technical College on a government scholarship. Compelled by financial circumstances, I gave up the course and became a teacher in 1949.
That year (Tun) Tan Cheng Lok was blown up by a terrorist hand grenade at an MCA meeting in Ipoh. The day before in Taiping, he had urged the government to trust the Chinese and bring them into the fight against the terrorists, who were pre-dominantly Chinese with some Malay republican nationalists.
From his hospital bed, Cheng Lok and his son Tan Siew Sin issued a statement, “The die is cast. There is no turning back. Let us call on all those Chinese who regard this country as their home to pledge themselves anew to the task in hand so that this country can be made safe for democracy and decent men and women.”
I thought hard when I read the news. I wanted to respond immediately but being the eldest son, my parents would never agree. Assassinations or attempts on the lives of Chinese continued. In 1950, without any consultation with my family, I applied and was released by the Education Department to join the police. I did not have any citizenship yet.
I served the force with utmost dedication and determination together with others in my generation, consisting mainly of Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians. We placed our trust and hope of independence, a multiracial nation and unequivocal justice for all communities in our statesmen politicians. The sanctity of our honest aspirations were crystalised in the tenets and spirit of our Constitution which did not provide for illegitimate or imbalanced or lording domination by any racial component of the nation.
It provides for the correction of all imbalances, irrespective of race, and especially for bumiputras to ensure they will have a place and fairness under the Malaysian sun.
The nation we fought for and I personally was twice shot for, and for which we had pledged our lives, was certainly not for any concept of a master race which had emerged from time to time. Recently, as usual, it had emerged again too vociferously and seditiously raised by senior politicians in a dominant political party – the backbone of the Barisan Nasional which is committed to work and lead in the interest of the nation and all communities with mutual respect and not political prostration. This tendency, insufficiently reined in recent years had resulted in the disproportionate employment of one community in both government and semi-government organisations or services. This has to be re-structured for more positive national objectives.
In 1984 when I retired after two years of extended service, the Inspector-General of Police discussed with me the idea of migrating to a friendly country. It was feared that the communists would continue to attempt to assassinate me even after retirement. We met pertinent foreign officials who were not unfavourable to the idea.
In the end, however, I decided to stay back because I did not like the idea of running away from my own country.
I also stayed back because I believe in our Constitution and the nation’s political leadership. The incumbent government had over decades brought much economic and social progress and stability to the nation. I had also noted a number of negative developments – including ultra-religious conservatism and racist leanings. Alongside was political decadence and abuse together with increasing corruption.
I told myself I would still remain because I believe that better enlightenment would come and is coming under our present prime minister as his government demonstrates more political will and courage to move forward and correct the decadence within government and party although the Opposition waits in the wings.
The prime minister and his deputy have declared in no uncertain terms that the government will not tolerate any racial polarisation which undermines national unity. We need such declarations from more ministers at the federal and state levels, from State Assemblymen, and heads of government departments and local councils. We do not want to be held hostage by a generation, who, although educated and professionally capable, are sadly unaware how independence was won and how and why the Constitution came about in its form and substance. The Opposition should not be the ones to have a better understanding on this.
Let us talk less of “ketuanan Melayu” or “ketuanan China” but more of “ketuanan negara”. Do not destroy the substance and spirit of the words “Malaysia” and “Malaysian”. Let us move forward further towards our cherished dream and eventual crystallisation of “Bangsa Malaysia” without prejudice to any community.
I call upon more patriots who had served the nation like Lt Jen (Rtd) Datuk Seri Zaini Mohd to re-emphasise that it is the country that matters most.
Datuk Seri Yuen Yuet Leng